Modern cybercriminals are targeting companies of all types and sizes as their capabilities and their agendas continue to evolve. Even small firms need leading cybersecurity capabilities as a result.
In addition to cybersecurity software and expertise, good “cybersecurity hygiene” within one’s firm—such as using strong passwords and password management as well as updating software at regular intervals—is also critical for ongoing success. “Leaders of small businesses [must] develop an actionable understanding of where to start implementing organizational cybersecurity practices,” says CISA. Specifically, “managing cyber risks requires building a culture of cyber readiness.”
This guide highlights good habits cybersecurity leaders can adopt in addition to partnering with a leading cybersecurity managed services provider that keeps them one step ahead of the latest cybersecurity threats. The guide provides ten essential techniques for good cybersecurity hygiene as well, helping firms protect against an uncertain future.
Taking a Holistic Approach to Cybersecurity Hygiene
McKinsey describes “cybersecurity hygiene” as “the care, stringency, and thoroughness with which cyber defenses are maintained,” adding that “to maintain a uniformly high level of cybersecurity hygiene across the organization… transparency and open communication are needed.” With this in mind, we can differentiate cybersecurity hygiene from both technology and expertise in that it applies to the entire organization, not just internal cybersecurity teams and their partners.
Why is cybersecurity so important for everyone?
With the rapid increase in cybersecurity threats, it is more important than ever for companies to have a cybersecurity program in place that involves the entire company. Breaches are becoming more common and more costly. The average cost of a data breach has “reached an all-time high,” according to IBM, where the “data breach average cost increased 2.6% from USD 4.24 million in 2021 to USD 4.35 million in 2022.” The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center saw a 62% year-over-year increase in ransomware complaints and a 20% year-over-year increase in reported losses from January to July 2021 as well.
What are the biggest cybersecurity threats right now?
The cybersecurity landscape is constantly changing, with new threats emerging all the time. Some of the most common breaches involve errors and vulnerabilities created by everyday employees: phishing attacks, weak passwords, and unpatched software, among others. IBM identifies vulnerabilities driven by human error as being among the top attack vectors, including compromised credentials and phishing attacks.
Therefore, cybersecurity hygiene is not only the responsibility of cybersecurity teams but everyone in the company. By promoting cybersecurity hygiene within your organization alongside investments in leading cybersecurity resources, you can help to prevent costly breaches and protect your assets in the long term.
Do I need a degree for cybersecurity?
Even if you partner with a managed services provider for cybersecurity, having someone on staff with a formal cybersecurity background is smart. But while taking on a formal cybersecurity role requires a cybersecurity background, participating in cybersecurity hygiene does not; nor does cybersecurity use coding when it comes to hygiene.
With the right strategic guidance, employees at all levels of an organization can participate in cybersecurity hygiene; and that can lead to substantial changes, even beyond hiring more cybersecurity professionals. Consider this: while some describe “humans and credentials” as “the weakest cybersecurity link, practicing good password hygiene and empowering people to prevent cyber incidents could be the best defense against cybercriminals,” according to Forbes Advisor. Since these are cyber criminals’ most common targets by nature, reinforcing them is perhaps the best application of resources. “By implementing password hygiene standards and security awareness training into your cybersecurity strategy, employees can have the right tools to change these statistics and serve as another line of defense in your organization’s security stack.”
10 Essentials for Good Cybersecurity Hygiene
There are many different cybersecurity hygiene practices that companies can adopt, but some are more essential than others. Here is a closer look at strategies and techniques that can help even small firms maintain world-class cybersecurity capabilities.
1.Partner with a leading managed services provider. Working with a partner who provides SASE or other managed cybersecurity services can help your company maintain strong and consistent cybersecurity defenses. A managed services provider can also keep your cybersecurity program up to date and compliant with industry best practices and regulations. This allows you to focus on cybersecurity hygiene within your ranks; not to mention regular line-of-business priorities.
2.Identify and continuously check for weak points. A cybersecurity program is only as strong as its weakest link. By identifying potential weak points in your cybersecurity defenses, you can take steps to address them before they are exploited by attackers. These are most often vulnerabilities created by human error, assuming you have strong cybersecurity software in place.
3.Patch your cybersecurity software regularly. Unpatched software is one of the most common cybersecurity vulnerabilities. By patching your cybersecurity software regularly, you can help prevent many common types of attacks. If you choose to work with a managed services provider for cybersecurity, ensure your partner has best practices in place for software patching and optimization.
4.Monitor resources that are potential targets for cybercriminals. Cybercriminals often target high-value resources, such as customer data or financial information. But attackers increasingly access networks through mobile networks, IoT devices, and other unexpected channels as well. Monitor these assets by implementing security controls, monitoring tools, and training sessions on cybersecurity vigilance.
5.Keep up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats. Cybersecurity is a constantly changing landscape, and new threats are emerging all the time. By staying up to date on the latest cybersecurity news, you can be proactive about addressing any new risks. Be sure to incorporate the latest information in regular cybersecurity training sessions. Your provider can keep you abreast of the latest developments as well.
6.Educate your employees about cybersecurity. Again, your employees are your first line of defense against cybersecurity threats. By educating them about cybersecurity risks and best practices, you can help them to identify and avoid potential threats. This is a central tenet of good cybersecurity hygiene.
7.Implement strong passwords and password management. One of the most common cybersecurity risks is weak passwords. By implementing a strong password policy, featuring regularly required updates, you can help to prevent breaches caused by compromised credentials.
8.Maintain up-to-date cybersecurity awareness training. Cybersecurity awareness training helps employees to identify and avoid potential threats. By keeping your cybersecurity awareness training consistent and up to date, you can ensure that your employees are equipped to handle the latest threats.
9.Adopt a cybersecurity incident response plan. In the event of a cybersecurity incident, having a plan in place can help to minimize damage and ensure that you can quickly recover. A holistic plan will lessen the shock and damage to employees and their individual workflows as well. By developing and testing a cybersecurity incident response plan, you can be prepared for any potential threats.
10.Align cybersecurity measures with long-term business priorities. Employees will continue to change where and how they work. Your own business goals and challenges will evolve as well. There is no limit to the cybersecurity threats you may face in the future. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that your cybersecurity measures are aligned with your long-term business goals and practices. This way, you can be sure that your cybersecurity program will continue to meet your needs into the future.
The Future of Security is “Adaptive Human Protection”
A widely used idiom among both business and cybersecurity leaders is that cybersecurity is “everyone’s responsibility.” This continues to be true today. But there is a potential future where a single human error won’t lead to a company wide crisis. “When cybersecurity is not everyone’s responsibility, it allows employees to get on with their day-to-day, meeting their digital aspirations while at the same time being protected from cyberthreats, even if they make a mistake,” Forrester predicts.
A future where employees needn’t worry about cybersecurity doesn’t exist yet. “Getting to that future will likely take 7–10 years, as currently the pull to stay the same is stronger than the friction required for change,” says Forrester. Good hygiene remains critical to protection today. But one can imagine how today’s cybersecurity partnerships and services can evolve to ensure holistic protection for entire organizations, no matter how and where their employees choose to work.
Partner with Uvation for Leading-Edge Cybersecurity Capabilities
The cybersecurity experts at Uvation work tirelessly to ensure our clients have the best cybersecurity awareness, training, and up-to-date capabilities, no matter their challenges or business priorities. Contact us today to learn how we can help transform your security capabilities and culture.